Episode 1 – | Review Score – 2/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 2/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 1.5/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 2/5
Episode 9 – | Review Score – 2/5
Episode 10 – | Review Score – 2/5
We all have that one friend who makes a big drama out of nothing. What starts off as an amusing observation soon becomes a tiresome slog as you’re forced to listen to another rant about meaningless drivel. Unfortunately, Zero Chill is the TV equivalent of that friend. With contrived drama, one-dimensional characters and some illogical plot beats, this skating/hockey hybrid gets lost on the ice early on and never looks like recovering.
The story here revolves around a family who move from Canada to the UK. Mac has a big opportunity to make a splash in ice hockey and believes this could be his shot to the big-time. Ignoring the fact that ice hockey is an incredibly niche sport here, the family settle in as Mac begins his sporting adventure playing for the Hammers. His sister Kayla however, is not so enthused.
Kayla is homesick, missing her best friend Jacob who she’s had to say goodbye to and leave her figure skating career behind. Now that she’s on her own, Kayla is forced to adapt and find her purpose. Only, that’s easier said than done when she’s constantly overshadowed by Mac.
Across these 30-minute long episodes, Zero Chill runs both these storylines parallel to one another. Ironically though, Kayla’s story does actually get overshadowed by Mac’s, who gets the lion’s share of the drama.
Alongside these two main storylines are several other subplots. Kayla’s new best friend Sky is suffocated (figurately speaking) by her overbearing Mother worried about her past. Meanwhile, Ava is a figure skater with a bright future, who finds herself pushed to breaking point by her Mother, Elina.
On paper, a lot of this sounds very promising and there’s certainly scope to examine the juxtaposition between parenting styles and letting your children find their voice and passion.
The trouble is, any promising early work is squandered by manufactured and contrived drama that feels forced on our characters rather than organically driven. Problems in one episode are wrapped up and forgotten about, character motivations go completely askew and there’s a strange shift around episode 5 which abandons the sub-plots built up to try and find something to replace them.
The result is a cocktail of influences that feels narratively confused, as these weird episodic problems are resolved and never spoken of again. I won’t spoil any of that here but suffice to say, a lot of questions remain by the end of the season.
Zero Chill is a weird show that tries to do lots of things but doesn’t do any of them competently. Despite this being written as a family flick, the writing here is so shallow that I doubt families will stick around with this one for the long haul.
There’s no depth to anyone and the parents – outside of Coach Anton, Luke and Elina – have very little to do. Likewise, the series introduces brand new, important characters and then dumps them several episodes later without mentioning them again. On the other end of the spectrum, key players for the finale are introduced around episode 6 and rush through to their conclusion.
A few years back, Netflix released Spinning Out which focused a lot on character drama without much skating action. Zero Chill then is a show that’s the reverse – with lots more action on the ice. To be fair, these segments are easily the stand-out of the whole show. The choreography is pretty good and the ice hockey matches are actually quite exciting.
Whether there will be a large enough crowd to warrant a second season (and Spinning Out being axed) remains to be seen. Given the wealth of TV out there – even in the family category – Zero Chill feels like it has zero chance of standing out next to so many other heavy hitters. With better writing this could be a hit but sadly this one slips and stumbles on the ice.